Rijne Energie, Eneco & BHM Solar selected for energy park in Utrecht

Source: De Windvogel

A consortium of Rijne Energie, Eneco and BHM Solar has been officially selected by the Municipal Executive of Utrecht for the development of an energy park with wind turbines and solar fields in the Utrecht polders Rijnenburg and Reijerscop. A plan development phase is now being started with the consortium. The final decision on the realisation of the wind turbines and solar fields has yet to be taken.

In July 2020, the municipality of Utrecht drew up an invitation framework with the conditions for the development of an energy landscape with solar fields and wind turbines in the Rijnenburg and Reijerscop polders. The consortium of Rijne Energie, Eneco and BHM Solar submitted the plan for the energy landscape to the municipality of Utrecht on 1 November 2020. The plan, together with the other submitted plans, was submitted to the Municipal Executive of Utrecht. On February 19, 2021, the Municipal Executive announced that it had officially selected the consortium as initiator.

Energy park
The proposal submitted by the consortium consists of 1 wind turbine in the Reijerscop polder, 2 wind turbines on land positions of the municipality in Rijnenburg, 2 solar fields on the territory of the municipality (6 hectares in total) and 20 hectares of solar panels on the Nederindse Plas. In addition, the consortium wants to use a land position of Rijkswaterstaat for 1 hectare of solar fields and a so-called purchasing station, with which the wind turbines and solar fields can be connected to grid operator Stedin’s electricity grid. In the long term, the ambition is to grow to 8 wind turbines and 230 ha of solar fields.

The plan is for the project to be 50% owned by Rijne Energie. The local energy cooperative is supported by energy cooperative De Windvogel. Both are responsible for the social side of the energy park and Eneco and BHM Solar for the technical side.

According to the Municipal Executive, the initiative proposal fits within the invitation framework and also fits within the connection capacity that Stedin can make available. The invitation framework does not allow a second developer for wind energy. Multiple initiators are not excluded for solar fields. For the latter, a second period of three months for the submission of proposals started on 19 February. This second round ends on May 19, 2021.

Plan elaboration phase
A plan development phase is started for the wind turbines in Rijnenburg and Reijerscop and the solar fields in Rijnenburg. During this phase, the plan for energy production and landscape measures are made more concrete and wind turbines and solar fields can also be added to the plan. During this phase, a cooperation agreement will be concluded between the municipality and the selected initiator and any initiators selected on the basis of the second round. In these cooperation agreements, agreements are laid down about planning decision-making. By the third quarter of 2021 at the latest, the city council will be informed about the progress of the project, including the results of the second round of submission of initiatives.

In the meantime, the consortium will once again enter into talks with land owners to investigate the possibilities of giving substance to the energy landscape. In addition, information and design sessions are organized with residents of the polder where, among other things, participation by the environment is discussed through, for example, a local residents’ scheme and environmental fund. In order to further develop the plan and to be able to finance the permit process, the consortium will organize a second crowdfunding for approximately 100,000 euros.

Once these processes have been completed, the consortium can further detail the plan and start with the Environmental Impact Report (EIA) and applying for permits. When the EIA has been completed and the permits have been granted, detailed engineering and tendering will take place. Then the SDE subsidy can also be applied for and a larger crowdfunding is started. The consortium expects construction to start at the end of 2022.